What you don't know about Morphy...

Chess history is funny.  It's really an awfully esoteric field of study that appeals to a relatively tiny portion of society. In the scope of things, it's rather unimportant and yet certain historians become ridiculously obsessed with minute details and trivia as if such things supercede the story itself - and that's all that history really is, a story. 
I've written a lot about Paul Morphy and have contributed my own flotsam of trivia in the process. But even I have my tolerance level and left out many things I had noted mentally over the years.  So, for the trivia lovers, here are a few of the things most people may not know about Paul Morphy -


Paul Morphy's father was, of course, Alonzo Morphy and most people know Alonzo's brother was Ernest Morphy. But most people aren't aware that Alonzo had another brother and three sisters - Thomas (possibly Tomas) Manuel Julius Morphy, born in 1804;  Anne Esmeralda Morphy, born in 1811 (and died in January of the same year as Paul, 1884);  Madeleine Antoinette Morphy, born in 1813;  Henriette Emma Morphy, born in 1815.
Alonzo also had a half-brother Diego Morphy, Jr.


We all know that Paul Morphy died in his bathtub and was diagnosed by the attending physician with congetion of the brain (apoplexy) which was assumed to have been brought on through the effect of cold water on an overheated body. What most people don't know is that Paul, though found in the water of the bathtub, had a large purple bruise on his left temple from where he fell.


Despite the fact that his opponent at the time was a beginner (it was Charles Maurian who was taught the game by Morphy in 1854) and Morphy was already a first-class master (having beaten Löwenthal four years earlier), Paul Morphy lost his only recorded game giving Queen-odds:



  • 7 years ago


    BishopJoe,  Morphy certainly had his day. Thanks.

  • 7 years ago


    Where is the source of this Morphy game? Shibut didn't publish it between his all Morphy games.


    Shibut - Game A17

  • 7 years ago


    Frances Parkinson Keyes moved into the Le Carpentier house in 1944 and obtained ownership in 1952. She must have seen only it's potential because the house itself had deteriorated severely. Mrs. Keyes contracted with architectural firm of Koch & Wilson to restore the house which was to be her winter residence for the next 25 years. When she first moved in, the space now occupied by the Beauregard Keyes House’s corner garden was being used as a factory - it had once been the Pelican Steam Factory which manufactured shirts and later it would be the site of a candy factory. In order to gain ownership of the corner lot, Keyes traded some property she owned in Faubourg Marigny with the factory owners. The Vieux Carré Commission gave Keyes permission to demolish the corner factory buildings, which had been judged to be of little historic or architectural merit. The old New Orleans bricks that had been used in construction of the factories were recycled to rebuild the garden wall. Her studio at the back of the large courtyard remains intact. Keyes wrote 40 novels in this studio, all in longhand, among which are Dinner at Antoine's, Madame Castel's Lodger and The Chess Players. see Le Vieux Carré et Paul Morphy


    Actually, Brennan's Restaurant occupies part of the Morphy house.


    At his commencement from Spring Hill in 1855, Morphy's address was entitled "The Political Creed of the Age."


     According to Lawson, after his blindfold exhibition at the Café de La Régence:
    "Finally Morphy was able to extricate himself from the crowd, with Thomas Bryan on one side, Rivière on the other, and Edge trailing along behind.  Morphy was able to escape because a huge “Pére” Morel spear-headed them to the street in football formation.  Then the four of them-Morphy, Bryan Rivière and Edge-made for the Palais Royal and upstairs to a private back room of the Restaurant Foy.  They escaped hours later by a back door to avoid the crowd that had assembled outside."


  • 7 years ago


    More trivia:
    The house that Morphy was born in later later became the home of Pierre Gustave Toutant  Beauregard (1818-1893), the famous Confederate General. It was later owned by author Francis Parkinson Keyes, who wrote The Chessplayers, a fictional account of Paul Morphy.

    The Morphy mansion (after moving from their original home) is today the site of Brennan's, a famous New Orleans restaurant.

    Paul Morphy beat General Winfield Scott in chess when Morphy was 8.

    Whole in college, Morphy took fencing lessons.

    At the commencement ceremony, Morphy gave an address on the condition of a just war, which did not include succession as a just cause for war.   That was in 1854.

    Paul’s older brother, Edward, became a cotton broker and, later, the director of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange.

    Morphy's father owned two slaves.

    When Morphy's father died at 57 from a cut due to hat brim, yhe funeral was said to be one of the largest ever held in New Orleans.

    At the age of 21, Morphy owned only 3 chess books.

    Morphy gave the $100 prize money from the 1857 New York Chess Congress to Charles Stanley's wife and children. As a mark of gratitude, she named her next daughter Pauline, who was born in December, 1857.

    Morphy won 100 British pounds from Löwenthal in a chess match, and then used that money to buy 120 pounds of furniture, which he then gave to Löwenthal’s family for their new apartment.

    French officials would now allow Morphy in the country with a United States passport, but Morphy could speak perfect French and he was allowed in.  The customs officials confiscated his underlinen, however. 

    When Morphy finished a blindfold simul at the Café de la Régence, everyone wanted to congratulate Morphy.   French Imperial guards, not knowing what was going on, thought a new revolution in Paris had broken out.

    Morphy had his winnings from a Harrwitz match(which he at first declined) deposited with the proprieter of the Café de la Régence to defray the expenses of Adolf Anderssen, his next opponent, to Paris from Breslau, Germany.

    Mr. James M. Mason, the American Ambassador to France, introduced Morphy to Emperor Napoleon III.

    While in Paris, Morphy met the grandson of Philidor.

  • 7 years ago


    Good one, Batgirl. I like esetoric chess stuff.

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